An Irish PR in London

By Alison Crowley, Senior Account Executive, Clarion Communications

Dia dhaoibh.  Or ‘hello’.

Understanding the language, interests and what makes people tick in the market you’re selling to has to be the fundamental cornerstone to every good PR campaign.  And that’s been my challenge for the past six months since moving to London from Ireland to work at Clarion as the new and only ‘paddy’ on the team.

Why the move? Well, most can take a rough guess from looking at the first few pages of any broadsheet – but that aside, having worked at a Dublin PR agency for almost two years, I decided where better to go to be part of some of the best PR campaigns in the world (and have some fun) than London.

Just a hop, skip and jump across the pond and I was quickly thrown into the deep end of PR at its best: faster paced, bigger budgets and longer brainstorms – to come up with ‘that’ idea to launch a new product, service or story in the perfect way – has soon become the norm for me.

Apart from changing my city, country, job, apartment and general lifestyle, a couple of differences have presented themselves which I’ve had to adapt to; and these differences have influenced the way I work daily including pitching stories, writing press releases and the scale and creativeness of my ideas to grab headlines. So far I’ve found the PR technique to be the same but hugely magnified.

First there’s the PR language and cultural difference; while working in PR in Dublin, I worked with clients who were based in both Ireland and the UK. As such, briefs sent to Irish offices had to regularly be adapted to suit the Irish audience, their way of thinking and the language they use. Now I find myself doing this again, except in reverse. I’m adapting the way I think in order to promote to the market I’m now selling to. I guess the same could be said if I were to move to New York, LA or Australia.

But the biggest difference I’ve noticed is that the Irish approach can be more relaxed and tongue in cheek, whereas in the UK I’ve found it tends to be more structured and formal. These differences in culture – such as bacon butties and the Marmite phenomenon to getting annoyed that a train takes a whole 120 seconds to arrive -has taken some getting used to.

Then we have the UK media…and to say going to it from the Irish equivalent was a change in pace is an understatement. Although Irish media equally run from deadline to deadline, and are too busy to say ‘hello’ on the phone, there’s an infinitely longer list of journalists and titles to approach over here. This has been both positive and negative in that I have more titles to approach but am fighting against ten times more PRs to vie for their attention.

That said, in my first six months with Clarion, and with Gorkana as my tour guide, I’ve found my way around the abyss that is UK media titles relatively well; with the pace that Clarion develops and sells-in news hooks to media, I’m quickly making my way down the list and building up contacts. The geography for regional sell-ins still requires a pre-Google, but one step at a time…

If anything else, working as an Irish PR in London has done nothing more than allow me to get involved with world class brands and products, organise bigger, weirder and wilder events, and hugely speed up the experiences I’m being exposed to in the PR world.

Will I go back to the Emerald Isle? Not just yet.